These stories were selected by Sage Tyrtle who set the prompt and judged the February ‘Throwdown’ challenge at the online flash fiction festival. We’ve another post to read with her comments and more about Sara Hills and David Lewis who were this month’s winners.
Tomorrow at Cafe la Nuit
by Sara Hills
You’ll meet your Uncle Dubois for dinner. He’ll order for you in excess, he always does, peering through perched spectacles at le menu while stroking the salted tail of his lamp black beard.
He’ll want to discuss finances. Your future.
The muscles in your legs will tense until you remember he’s no Auntie Jeanne; when she said a girl with your education has only two options, he didn’t listen. He won’t mention those options, the boiled-prune hues of hungry men. Instead, he’ll ask about your work, the muses, if you’re eating enough. His concern will carry the lemon yellow cadence of morning light through an open window.
Tomorrow, suspended between tinkling glasses and the chocolat marquise, he’ll ask about your latest project, if you’re happy, fulfilled. In the lantern-orange glow, summer-tinted walls washing warm tones across the white tablecloth, a jasmine breeze will lift the edges of your hair. And, turning, how your mind does, you’ll plan to recreate this palette later: sulfur and cadmium yellows, orange and citron green, a rich phthalo blue for the daisied-star sky.
Watching you, Uncle will raise his brow and laugh, no more than a cricket’s chirrup. Wistful, he’ll say, “There’s so much of your mother in you.”
“And also in you,” you’ll tell him — rose tones replacing the Payne’s grey shadow on his cheek.
Tomorrow night at the cafe, buoyed by the distant high hum of an accordion echoing Hymne a L’amour down the cobble-strewn street, you’ll take your uncle’s hand and tell him everything: the viridian tones of your lover’s voice, the future-song scent of her skin. The truth of who you are, all that you are, will stampede from your chest in cerulean, violet, ultramarine.
When you say her name, he’ll see fireworks.
Minor Planet 4457
by David Lewis
Ten minutes from now, when the cathedral clock bongs 11, he will set down his paintbrush.
Eleven minutes from now, he will wipe his hands on his spattered smock and gaze into a cracked mirror with a feeble oil lamp. He will see a face hatched in different colours, a man who looks 20 years older than him. His head will buzz.
Thirteen minutes from now, he will replace the sticky blood-soaked cloth around his head to avoid frightening locals who will petition next week that he be sent to a sanatorium.
Sixteen minutes from now he will go to the all-night café in search of food, drink, and Paul. On his way he will see violet-pink cobbles, rolling like giant pebbles on a wet beach, a lane receding into the dark, and an awning of throbbing yellow that will remind him of sunflowers.
Nineteen minutes from now he will take a seat on the terrace and order bread, cheese and a flask of absinthe from Madame Ginet, who will tell him Paul is upstairs with the dark-haired prostitute who prefers Paul to him.
Thirty-three minutes from now he will empty his green glass, retch from the taste of liquorice, toss coins on the shiny tin table, and lurch away under the swirling blue of a starry, starry night.
Two years, three months, two weeks, three days, four hours and 36 minutes from now, after spells in the Saint Rémy Asylum, he will shoot himself in the chest with a 7mm Lefaucheux revolver.
Twenty-nine hours and 47 minutes from now, he will die, his brain pulsing with colour.
Ninety-nine years and three months from now, on 3 December 1989, the International Astronomical Union will name Minor Planet 4457 after him.